Veteran Unemployment Rate

Military veterans have provided a service to our country by protecting us and making it possible for us to live the lives we cherish every day. Serving in the military is one of the greatest services an individual can provide to their country, but upon returning to the domestic workforce from active duty, veterans seem to be at a disadvantage. In 2011, the veteran unemployment rate reached 29%. This statistic does not even represent the whole picture, as veterans are more likely than the general population to be U.S. citizens, to hold a G.E.D. or high school diploma, and proportionally have a higher percentage of men.

Once all of these factors have been controlled for, veterans are still, on average, 3.4 percentage points more likely to be unemployed. Many veterans also eventually are discouraged and drop out of the labor force, meaning this percentage should likely be higher than it is. Younger veterans also tend to feel the effects of unemployment more greatly. The issue of veteran unemployment being higher has only been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. So why is this percentage so much higher than non-veterans?


Why the Veteran Unemployment Rate is Higher

The commonly cited causes for why the unemployment rate for veterans is higher are poor health, selection, employer discrimination, skills mismatch, and job search. However, there is little evidence to support these aspects being the cause. The main cause of the difference has been found to be the length of time that comes with the job search following leaving military service. Beyond the job search, there are some key factors that can lead to discrimination against veterans as they attempt to find new jobs. These factors can also contribute to making the job search more difficult.

Translating Military Work into Civilian Skills

While there are many skills learned from serving in the military, it can be difficult to make it clear how those skills translate to civilian jobs. Most military jobs have equivalents in the civilian workforce, but it can be difficult to put this on paper and employers tend to go with the paperwork they can more easily understand.


Certification Problems

There are many jobs veterans have had in a military context that they could perform just as well in the civilian workforce. However, most civilian jobs require a form of certification the military does not. This can make it difficult for veterans to obtain jobs they are qualified for as the need for certification and/or classes can present a financial barrier, as well as requiring a great deal of time, leaving veterans unemployed as they acquire certifications.



While employers cannot officially discriminate for disabilities, a common issue is that employers are hesitant to hire veterans, fearing they may have disabilities that come from their time in the military. One of these main disabilities is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disorder that often makes employers wonder how veterans will cope in a civilian workplace. While this is clearly discriminatory, this unspoken bias still exists.


The Effects of Veteran Unemployment

Veteran unemployment can be detrimental to the health of these veterans. Being jobless often makes people unable to have health insurance, as well as not having enough income to support a healthy lifestyle. There is a likelihood that this higher rate of unemployment among veterans contributes to the higher rates of depression and suicide among veterans, as well. A study from Department of Public Health at the University of Otago demonstrated that being unemployed increases the risk of death by suicide by two to three fold. In addition, unemployment benefits eventually run out, so veterans are left in an even worse situation the longer they are unemployed. This makes it clear that veteran unemployment is a potentially dangerous issue that must be addressed.


How Can the Problem Be Solved?

While the unemployment rate among veterans has been rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that once the United States has adjusted back to normal day-to-day life, this rate will begin to fall again. However, the systemic issue must be addressed to make a permanent change that will eliminate the disadvantage veterans find themselves at. Addressing the higher rates of unemployment among veterans will likely have to be addressed both by the federal government and by employers themselves. The government can implement policy that makes the job search easier for veterans, provides them with the necessary certifications for entering the civilian job market, supports programs in veteran affairs, and addresses the unspoken bias against veterans with disabilities. Employers can work harder to become knowledgeable about military experience and how it translates to civilian work; address their unconscious biases; and work with veterans to make the transition to the civilian workforce easier. It is beneficial for the U.S. economy and the labor force to allow veterans to participate in the workforce, employing the skills they learned during their time in the military.


Future Workplaces

The future workplaces that will be most accommodating to veterans are those that shorten the hiring process and simplify the process of finding a position that fits military skills. The birth of the gig economy is making strides in this area. Faveo, a company that falls within this sector, simplifies the hiring process by allowing employers to find flexible, on-demand, reliable workers through a single system. This facilitation shortens the length necessary to find jobs which can help veterans become employed more quickly. Our company was founded by veterans who understand the struggle many face with trying to get back to work upon returning home. We want to help veterans get back to work through on-demand jobs that suit the skills learned as military personnel

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